In The San Luis Valley, Susan Tweit takes us on an extraordinary spring journey through a place her heart knows as home. It’s a joy to read her keen observations about wild territory — in the outback, in our hearts — and the many ways it feeds the soul.
the tepee-shaped slice of south central Colorado between the San
Juan Mountains and the Sangre de Cristo Range, migrating sandhill
cranes hunker down in the marshes of the Monte Vista National
Wildlife Refuge. Thirty-five miles northeast at Great Sand Dunes
National Park, "North America’s tallest active sand dunes
blow up against glacier-gouged mountain summits and monotonous
reaches of desert scrub hide verdant pocket wetlands." The parched,
undulating landscape is filled at one moment with gusty winds, the
next with an arresting quiet. Both places depend on nearby desert
rivers, including the Rio Grande, that also have to slake the
thirsts of area farms and a growing human population.
Tweit loves these places with her bones. She recounts the slow
dance of shifting dunes and shares what the sandhill cranes have
taught her about home.
"We think of home as a single
place," she writes. "But ‘home’ may be better
understood as the landscapes and seascapes that comprise
life’s journey; a pattern of places engraved in memory ...
any place whose call is so insistent that individuals are impelled
to set out and wing or walk or swim hundreds or thousands of
Glenn Oakley’s exquisite halftone images
complement the text: A jeweled arc of water refracts the desert
sun; wind-sculpted peaks cast ominous shadows. Curves and light and
wings convey the desert’s secret language, as Oakley explores
the architecture forged by rivers of air and water.
The San Luis Valley is part of the University of
Arizona’s Desert Places series, which explores why lands of
great extremes draw our love — and lead some to call the most
seemingly inhospitable places home.
At home in the valley
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